New Cover Crop Selection Publication

Authors: Kevin Shelley, UWEX Nutrient and Pest Management Program, 608-575-4746

Cover crops following wheat and other short season crops in Wisconsin: Selection and management guidelines.

A new cover crops publication is available from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nutrient and Pest Management Program (NPM). The short 4-page paper discusses the pros and cons of several species that can be used as cover crops and annual forage crops when planted following wheat or other short season crops mid-July through mid-August. Practical objective-based management and selection guidelines, based on university research trials and multiple years of on-farm collaboration, are provided for several legume, cereal grain and brassica species as well as insights on some mixtures.

Following harvest of winter wheat or other short season crops, if not planted to alfalfa, fields in Wisconsin are often left fallow. However, with more than 40 percent of the growing season remaining, planting a cover crop may be a good option.

Many farmers are looking to cover crops to keep the soil covered, suppress some of the weeds that may otherwise grow, recycle and/or fix nutrients and improve soil condition with additional roots and organic matter. Producing supplemental forages, managing nutrient budgets and meeting conservation requirements are other objectives for which cover crops can provide value.

Thanks to reviewers Dan Undersander, Mike Ballweg, Eric Birschbach and Jim Stute for their contributions.

The 4-page publication is available for free download at